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PC Photo magazine is geared toward the digital photography enthusiasts in America, and is a useful pre-purchase buying guide for all things digital to print. The February 2002 issue has an eye-catching color cover but may be a little too busy -- touting nine different feature articles -- to be effective. I mean, they even put a blurb in the white box usually reserved for the imprint of the UPC code! Since I have so much content to report on, I suppose I will concentrate on just the three articles with the largest display type on the cover. Those articles are: 5 Amazing New Digital Cameras Make Your Best Prints & Gerald Bybee's Wacky Kids 5 Amazing New Digital Cameras is listed inside the magazine as Digital Camera Test Drives -- which runs from pages 63-72, and concludes with a one-page grid useful for side-by-side comparison of all five featured cameras. I enjoyed the five half-page reviews of the Nikon Coolpix 5000, Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom, Canon Powershot G2, Minolta DiMage S304, and Pentax Optio 330, but while each review was technically proficient in highlighting all the major selling points of each camera, collectively the reviews fell flat for lack of any attempt at carrying a personal narrative or viewpoint. Rob Sheppard's writing evidenced more effort, and was more enjoyable than the other three reviews, but the composite article trumpeted above the mast on the cover of PC Photo really didn't do much for me. The second article, 10 Tips for Better Prints is a five-page spread with basic but helpful advice on Composition and Exposure, Tonality, Color, Dust & Scratch Removal, Sharpness, Cropping, Image Resolution, Choosing Paper, Setting Your Print Driver, and Making Test Prints. The last two tips were an especially nice touch. Since I sell digital cameras and photo-quality printers for a living, I can vouch for the relativity and the accuracy of these tips. These ten paragraphs addres
s the most frequently asked questions that I run into on a daily basis, especially taking the viewpoint of novice camera and computer users that I meet on the salesfloor into account. The third article, Bybee's Kids is the best human interest article in the magazine, and showcases the work of Gerald Bybee. Bybee is a prolific photographer who relies heavily on photo-manipulation to sell his surreal and commercial imagery. While all the photos featured in this article were fun photos of kids, overall it just seemed like a huge hook to sell the story on while the photos failed to impress. While there's nothing wrong with Photoshop, do we really need a seven-page feature where half the images look like they were dumped straight out of Kai's Power Goo when PC Photo is so obviously pressed for content space? While I have chosen to concentrate on only three articles for the sake of the brevity of this review, I must admit that as a casual read I enjoyed most of the subject matter of PC Photo. This is the first time I have picked up this particular mag, but it certainly won't be the last. If you need advice on inkjet papers, be sure to read Niceole Levy's concise coverage on Page 48. It ends with an excellent full page Paper Resource Guide covering 28 inkjet paper manufacturers, complete with URLs. Rick Sammons also did a commendable job with a four-page story on how to Create Your Own E-Book that tells you a little of the short history of e-books, and the steps necessary to produce one. Lastly, the short article on Pressure Sensitive Tablets seemed like advertorial filler. If the Editors of PC Photo magazine really want to improve the readability of their product -- they might want to zero in on having fewer and more substantive articles, instead of the scattershot of short articles interspersed with advertising that they currently lean on. Having previously worked for both a printing company and a
monthly publication, I fully appreciate the necessary economic evils of advertising, but I generally don't pick up a magazine again when the ad pages exceed more than half of the total pages of the publication. I hesitate to say it, but PC Photo might become that rarest of exceptions on my regular reading list. In fact, if the Editors can improve the content to advertising ratio and include longer articles, I may very well end up a subscriber. Until then, I'll just have to settle with considering PC Photo as my #2 Guide to Better Digital Photography.